Shaw leading way for PGCBL-best Amsterdam Mohawks with hot hitting

The Amsterdam Mohawks are 24-6 in Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League play so far this season.

The Amsterdam Mohawks are 24-6 in Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League play so far this season.

With a little less than three weeks remaining in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League’s regular season, Amsterdam Mohawks infielder Matt Shaw is within reasonable striking distance of an accomplishment that hasn’t been pulled off in the decade since the league’s inaugural season in 2011.

That feat: No hitter has led the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in to captured the PGCBL’s Triple Crown.

Shaw hits the stretch run sitting in the top five in all three categories.

Entering Sunday’s action, Shaw — who has played 23 games for Amsterdam since wrapping up his freshman season at the University of Maryland — has belted a league-leading seven home runs, sits fourth in the league with a .367 batting average and is fifth with 19 RBIs.

For Shaw, it’s merely a continuation of what’s been a stellar 2021. The Brimfield, Massachusetts native started 45 games in his first collegiate season with the Terrapins, and hit a team-best .332 to go along with seven homers and 30 RBIs for a team that went 30-18 before being eliminated in the NCAA tournament’s Greenville Regional.

“I’m just trying to stay locked in,” Shaw said. “Trying to do all the same things that I did at school, but do them here in a little different environment.”

The closest previous bid for the PGCBL Triple Crown came in 2018, when Ryan Toohers of the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs led the league with 10 homers and a league-record 57 RBIs, but his .391 batting average was good for only second in the league behind teammate Ryan Hernandez’s .423 mark.

There have been two legitimate Triple Crown bids from former Mohawks. In 2016, Joe Genord led the league in home runs and RBIs, though he finished well off the pace on the batting average leaderboard. In 2019, Shaw’s Maryland teammate Maxwell Costes crushed a PGCBL-record 12 home runs, while his .374 batting average and 36 RBIs both ended up third-best in the league.

Shaw entered Sunday one home run ahead of Albany’s Adam Zebrowski for the league lead, while three players were tied for the league lead with 22 RBIs and another Mohawk — outfielder CJ Funk — has 20.

Shaw and Funk have been the driving force for an Amsterdam offense that has the team 24-6 and four games clear of Saugerties atop the East Division.

“They’re really good players,” Mohawks coach Keith Griffin said of Shaw and Funk. “You’re almost surprised when they make an out.”

Batting average will likely be Shaw’s toughest obstacle en route to the Triple Crown, with Auburn’s Griffin O’Ferrall sitting pretty in the league lead at .430.

Shaw, two inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter than his fellow Terrapin Costes, also has an outside chance of making a run at the single-season PGCBL home run record if he can replicate performances like Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Glens Falls Dragons, when he hit leadoff homers in both games — and another in the seventh inning of Game 1 — to vault into the league lead.

Even as the Mohawks hit a few midseason doldrums — a listless 5-3 loss to struggling Oneonta on July 2, and a 12-4 shellacking at the hands of Albany four days later — before ending the week with four straight wins, Shaw remained confident in the team’s prospects.

“We’ve got a really good team,” he said. “I’m not really worried about us. We’re going to win games.”

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